“A play that shows the emptiness of the American dream”. How far do you agree with this evaluation of ‘Death of a Salesman’?
It appears from the first view of ‘death of a salesman’ that there are certain, negative realities in the American dream. From writing this play, Miller has strongly illustrated that the American dream produces an image that human worth and worths can be measured in monetary terms. During 1940’s America, capitalism and consumerism was at it’s strongest with the American dream functioning as a predator to the unsuspicious, identified and success-hungry businessmen of America.
Although some of these men flourished in developing an effective business and earned a great deal of cash, others failed and felt that their own small achievements were empty and irrelevant.
In the play, Willy (like other American salesmen) has focused his life and attention on attaining the American dream and being an effective role model to his children. Willy, nevertheless, does not achieve success and instead comes down with capitalism.
His main belief is that appeal results in individual and service accomplishment, and materialistic products prove that he is well liked and enjoyed by his friends and family. Even though Willy can not pay for extensive presents, the American dream is based on materialising love and values and Willy does this when he purchases Biff and Delighted a punch bag branded with ‘Gene Tunney’s signature’.
Although in the beginning this present seems valued, instead of flatter and excite, materialism and brand names haunted Willy with debt and insecurity, yet he felt required to provide for his boys and identified to succeed in the American dream. Willy is a failure and his suicide tries displayed an ineffective, tired guy. He feels that what he does achieve are empty achievements and his bad points and factors for failure were obvious; such as instilling false values into his children. It can be analyzed that, due to the fact that Willy was inefficient, when he did attain something, it was irrelevant and empty; although some critics may feel that his lack of success may imply he put more pride in his small achievements such as DIY around your home.
This is revealed when Willy is trying to impress his neighbour Charley by saying ‘Did you see the ceiling I put in the living-room?’ Willy and Linda had just one payment left on their twenty 5 year home loan before your house is their own, and Linda feels rather content and delighted about this. But Willy is still dissatisfied, questioning the reason for owning the house in the very first location: ‘What point?’. Owning your house is an empty accomplishment for Willy, although it took so long to accomplish. ‘Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody left to reside in it’. this alone shows the emptiness of consumerism and the American dream.
It is likewise illustrated that the American dream is an empty achievement when, at the start of the play, Delighted and Biff are discussing their employment and future. At this moment, Delighted suggests that his manager’s success is empty, with him constructing a house that ‘he can’t delight in as soon as it’s finished’. Delighted states that he is usually accomplishing whatever that he desired, yet they are trivial to him; they are empty achievements. He even questions the reason why he is working just as Willy questioned the point of the house, because all he is attaining from working is meaningless and empty success. It might be argued that Miller is attempting to pursue the idea that it is the process of success that is more crucial than success itself. This strongly questions American values, as many people follow the American dream which holds the belief that material items are more important and that they represent personal and organisation victory.
Nevertheless, Pleased achieves success personally to make up for his empty accomplishments as a clerk. He seduces the fiancï ¿ 1/2 e’s of his managers since he has an ‘over-developed sense of competition’– Happy takes what he desires even though he apparently ‘dislikes himself for it’, indicating making use of the bad morals taught to the boys by Willy. This again might be construed as an purposeless success in the process of attaining the American dream. Another point of perspective is that the ladies, like materialistic products and commercialism, might produce status in the American social system, but they also produce tension and not necessarily happiness.
Willy is in constant competitors with his neighbour Charley, constantly aiming to be ‘bigger than Uncle Charley’ and appealing his children this success. This point suggests that materialism and the American dream are more vital than basic well-being and human worth, and some critics feel that through this neighbourly competitors, Miller is questioning the values of America as a whole. Willy’s mind and psychology also breakdown because of his obsession with the American dream, and his dreams become illusions. Ultimately, Willy is fighting with impressions and reality and believes all he is worth is his insurance coverage money, stressing the concept that the American dream is empty and human values can be determined economically. The irony of Linda stating ‘we’re totally free’ at the end of the play is both ironic and terrible as although she is now devoid of debt, the empty American dream the illuded both Willy and herself is still holding her and others captured.
On the other hand, in contrast to Willy, Charley succeeds and has a fulfilling career and attained the American dream. Willy is very envious of Charley, a lot so that his pride, jealousy and stubbornness avoids him from accepting a task off Charley, even when he is jobless: ‘I simply can’t work for you, Charley’. Likewise, Howard, although terrible to Willy and fires him, is extremely successful. He has a delighted, idealistic family life. He is able to manage materialistic goods, can provide for his family, is not bypassed by debt and is generally satisfied by his success and the American dream. Howard is really happy and boastful to have actually accomplished the American dream and this is shown when he boasts his tape recorder to Willy, who is obviously resentful.
Howard’s other product possessions appear to be unimportant compared to the tape recorder and are no longer needed, revealing Howard to be a rather inefficient person. This once again implies that, in distinction to Willy, Howard is very effective and is enjoying in consumerism, finding the American dream really gratifying. However, another perspective might be that Howard, like Willy, discovers the American dream empty as he is not enjoying what he has actually attained, and is simply changing everything with a more modern-day or costly model.
In dissimilarity to Willy, Charley is a real, kind and caring neighbour, and is not at all in competition with Willy. Therefore, Charley worths human worth and this suggests that American values are not focused mainly on achievement. Charley has not let the American dream influence his concepts of human worth and worths, and he does not think that human life can be measured economically. He really seems really fretted at Willy’s hints towards suicide and states to him ‘nobody’s worth nothing’ dead’.
Charley is practical compared to Willy, who is optimistic and living in his own fantasy. Through his success, Charley sees Willy’s faults and reasons for his failure and tries to make Willy acknowledge this by continuously asking ‘Willy, when are you going to grow up?’. Charley identifies Willy’s dreams are incorrect and he tries to assist him. This reveals that the American dream has not reduced Charley’s character as it has Willy’s and Charley’s success mean she can help Willy financially. This can be analyzed as Charley utilizing his pleasing achievements to assist Willy.
For Charley, his dream has come true not an impression. Charley might have also ended up being victim to commercialism however, in comparison to Willy, he is growing off it whereas it is destroying Willy. He is content with his success and feels satisfied by his achievements, recommending that the play does not entirely demonstrate the vacuum of the American dream however the fulfilments also. Miller himself argues that the play is not totally based on the faults of the American dream although it does question American values extremely powerfully. He enhances his argument since, although Willy is beat by the American dream, Charley is totally effective without creating individual flaws from his dreams of success. Bernard, his kid, is likewise a genuine (as well as effective) person; a total difference from Willy’s kids.
As a result, ‘Death of a salesman’ practically completely illustrates elements of the American dream today. Our twenty first century ideals, dreams and illusions echo, even more so maybe, the prosperous America of fifty years earlier. It can be related to by individuals of our culture today in addition to those from the 1940’s, making the effective pointers of the illusion concentrated on in ‘Death of a Salesperson’ entirely relevant to our world. It is from this that I have actually pertained to the conclusion that, although ‘Death of a Salesman’ discreetly includes stories of success due to the American dream, this play is a textbook illustration of the vacuum of the American dream and consumerism; where failure and dissatisfaction eats away at joy and self-confidence, however success is, similarly, an empty accomplishment.